Alexander L. Francis’ Conflicts

All humans have conflicts of interest. Scientists have an obligation to try to prevent those conflicts from interfering with their objectivity. However, this may not always be possible, so in the interest of full(er) disclosure, here are some of the factors that are most likely to influence me, consciously or unconsciously. I got the idea for making a page like this from Michael Eisen’s (@mbeisen) Conflicts Page.

tl;dr: Areas of biggest conflicts are public funding of research and higher education, public policy related to noise sensitivity, noise exposure, hearing impairment, open access publication. Foreign connections with Germany, The Netherlands, Hong Kong.

  • I am a salaried, full-time employee of Purdue University. I have an obvious institutional conflict of interest in relation to any issues involving the department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, and more generally public higher education in Indiana and in the US.
  • I have received, and continue to seek, research funding from the NIH. I therefore have a clear conflict of interest when it comes to issues related to federal funding of research.
  • I also apply for research funding from various foundations and private enterprises that may have an interest in promoting specific policies related to environmental and workplace noise, and diagnostics and treatments related to sound sensitivity and hearing impairment. I will list these here if/when they arise.
  • Some of the organizations to which I submit research grant proposals are based outside the US, and I collaborate with colleagues in both Europe (primarily Germany and The Netherlands), and Hong Kong. Therefore, I have a strong conflict of interest with respect to issues related to science funding and international collaboration/communication, especially with respect to the governments of Germany, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, China and the EU.
  • I receive a stipend from ASHA for my work as an editor at JSLHR (Hearing). Therefore, although I’m a huge fan of open science and open access publishing, I have a clear conflict of interest with respect to issues related to academic and scientific publication, especially anything involving for-profit, professional association-led, publication.
  • Furthermore, both because I am paid by JSLHR and am a dues-paying member of ASHA, although I am not trained or licensed as a clinician (neither SLP nor Audiologist), I have a conflict of interest with respect to issues such as clinical certification and licensure on which ASHA has taken a public stance.
  • I am a member of the Acoustical Society of America, and serve on the Panel on Public Policy. Therefore, to the extent that I generally agree with and support the society’s positions (and occasionally help to craft them), I am likely to have conflicts with respect to issues related to the Society’s position on a variety of topics, especially environmental and workplace noise policy and federal and state science funding policy.
  • I have been paid to speak at universities and by professional organizations about my work on listening effort. I don’t know exactly what this affects in terms of contexts, but I clearly have a financial conflict of interest when it comes to publicity surrounding my own research, and I definitely feel more good will toward organizations who like my work enough to pay for me to come to them to talk about it…